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What is the difference between:

  1. He has been having headaches for the past ten days.

  2. He has had headaches for the past ten days.

Is the main verb "have" of sentences (1) and (2) a stative verb?

1 Answer 1

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  1. He has been having headaches for the past ten days.

This suggests to me that he had a number of separate headaches over the past ten days.

  1. He has had a headache for the past ten days.

I would not use the second sentence as it appears in your question, but I would use it in the form shown above. This would mean that he has had one headache continuously for the whole ten days.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, have meaning POSSESS is stative (it is marked "not continuous"), but have meaning BE ILL is not stative.

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  • Just one more question: Is this sentence correct: He has had headaches in the past few days? If so, is there any difference between this sentence and sentence (1) in the OP?
    – Mr. X
    Jul 9, 2021 at 5:56
  • has had headaches suggests that he has had at least two. has been having headaches suggests that they were more frequent than that, ie there must have been several.
    – JavaLatte
    Jul 9, 2021 at 6:21
  • Although I accepted your answer I still have doubts. You say: have meaning BE ILL is not stative. If that is the case, then would you say: He has been having a headache for the past ten days.
    – Mr. X
    Jul 9, 2021 at 7:51
  • No, you wouldn't. present perfect is fine to describe a single situation that lasts until present: "He has worked here for 25 years". Present perfect continuous is only necessary if there are multiple, intermittent situations "he has been having headaches for the past ten days".
    – JavaLatte
    Jul 10, 2021 at 7:50

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